Calls for Jacob Rees-Mogg to resign for axing virtual parliament hours before minister gets ill

PUBLISHED: 21:54 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 22:28 03 June 2020

Jacob Rees Mogg answering questions in the House of Commons, London, during a motion on parliamentary proceedings during the pandemic. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Jacob Rees Mogg answering questions in the House of Commons, London, during a motion on parliamentary proceedings during the pandemic. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

There has been criticism of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg after a minister self-isolated with a suspected case of coronavirus shortly after the plan to axe virtual parliament proceedings went ahead.

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Just hours after Rees-Mogg’s plan was implemented to scrap the virtual parliament system the business secretary Alok Sharma appeared unwell at the despatch box.

Sharma was sent home to self-isolate on Wednesday evening and has been given a test for Covid-19 after his stint answering questions.

Now Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper has called for the Commons leader to resign from his post for “bringing the House into disrepute, and needlessly putting lives at risk”.

She added: “Speaker Lindsay Hoyle should return parliament to virtual proceedings only with immediate effect”.


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Her calls were supported by the SNP who said virtual proceedings must return without delay.

The party’s deputy leader in Westminster Kirsty Blackman MP said the suspected case demonstrates “just how ridiculous and irresponsible the Tory government’s decision to end virtual participation in parliament was”.

“They must now rectify this serious mistake and reintroduce hybrid proceedings without delay,” the MP added.

“In light of this development it’s difficult to see how else parliament can proceed - but what is clear is that this botched system isn’t working and needs to change urgently to protect our democracy.

“Millions of people across Scotland and the UK have been disenfranchised by the Tory decision, which has blocked many MPs from participating and voting.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: “The government stopped MPs from working from home and asked us to return to a building where social distancing is impossible.

“MPs are travelling home to every part of the country tonight. Reckless doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

Her colleague Labour MP Peter Kyle said that Rees-Mogg should make a “full and swift apology”.

Boris Johnson earlier defended the plans to stop virtual parliament proceedings at PMQs in response to criticism from Keir Starmer.

He said: “I do think (he) needs to consider what is really going on throughout the country where ordinary people are getting used to queuing for long periods of time to do their shopping or whatever it happens to be.

“I do not think it’s unreasonable that we should ask parliamentarians to come back to this place and do their job for the people of this country.”

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